20 Tips for a Healthy Holiday Season

by jamie on December 16, 2016

 

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20 Tips for a Healthy Holiday Season

 Have you heard the Christmas carols being played in the stores already? I am always surprised how quickly the holidays come around every year. You too? Here are 20 Tips for a Healthy Holiday Season to make it easier for you stay healthy during the holidays.

What I want for myself, and I suspect you might also want, is to enjoy the season while avoiding getting too stressed out and staying as much as possible on my health regime during this busy, sometimes stressful time full of festivities, events, temptations and indulgences.

In other words, I want to avoid gaining weight and I want to have an enjoyable holiday season. (Is that too much to ask?)
 

If you are of like-mind, here are some great tips that can make it easier for you to focus, stay calm, choose healthy options during the holidays AND have fun!

   20 Tips for a Healthy Holiday Season

1. Avoid thinking of the season as a month of tempting events. It may seem that way but it’s not true. There are realistically only a few special events scheduled during the holidays and all of those need not be opportunities for overindulging or losing control. There will be many “normal” days included in the season. Remember that the holidays are not necessarily ALL about overindulging in food and alcohol. If you find yourself thinking so, check out the tip below:

2. Think about what it is that you truly want from the holidays. Many of us have read the book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo where she encourages readers to declutter their closets and homes, only keeping what “sparks joy.” The same approach can be taken when planning the holiday season.  Look at a calendar of December and schedule events and activities that spark joy and have meaning for you.

  • Ask yourself from January’s perspective, what would you like to say about the month of December you just experienced. What did you enjoy? What enhanced the month for you? What had meaning? What did you come up with that may have you making some changes, letting go of some activities that have lost their meaning and adding some new ones that will give you more joy. Or perhaps you will want to keep them the same.
  • Visualize how you want to look and feel while at special events as well as when the season is over and plan meals, snacks, exercise and rest accordingly.
  • Plan a few breaks for yourself during the month. It’s a great time to get a massage, visit with an old friend or two, take a nap by the fire, read that great book you’ve been meaning to read, or to get away for a few days. We don’t have to go into a frenzy-honest. Reclaim the holidays so that they work for you.
  • Instead of overindulging in goodies and drinks, we can indulge in healthy ways. For some ideas on healthy indulgences, check out this list on my What Works Weight Loss Web site.
     

3. Keep moving – whether that be continuing your regular exercise routine, dancing at an event or adding a seasonal exercise like ice skating or x-country skiing. Schedule the dates and times you will exercise on your calendar and get yourself to the gym, the yoga studio, the trail or wherever it is that you work out. Plan some walks with holiday visitors, or plan to ski, snow-shoe, hike, dance or ice skate. What about when it is raining and you don’t want to get soaked?

Check with your local indoor mall to see if they open early for morning walkers. Or walk in a covered outdoor shopping lot parking lot before the cars begin to arrive. Or, if it’s not pouring, get wet – it’s only water.  Exercise DVDs can be another great idea for days when you don’t want to venture outside. Exercise not only burns up calories, it helps us deal with stress. As we all know, the holidays can be stressful!

4. Know which foods are packed with the most calories. Surprise! Did you know that gravy can have 800 calories/cup? Or that a handful of mixed nuts (1/2 cup) can cost you over 400 calories? What about 1/2 cup of eggnog? (170 calories and 10 grams of fat for 1/2 cup!) By knowing the caloric content of the seasonal foods, you can spend and budget your calories on foods that have the most value to you.

5. Get enough sleep.  Many of us eat more when we are tired, especially in the evenings. We often try to pack in even more than we do normally during the holidays and getting enough sleep can be difficult. Make a list of what is essential, what can be let go and what you can ask or pay someone else to do. Delegate when possible. Be reasonable in what you can realistically accomplish.

Make the word “ease” part of your vocabulary this time of year. I often tell my weight management clients (and anyone else who will listen) that the picture-perfect Victorian-type Christmas holidays we work so hard for were actually provided by a household of servants. The mistress of the house had lots of paid help! Now, it is usually just us who is trying to decorate, shop, cook and entertain, which can leave us exhausted (and resentful) if we aren’t careful.

6. Make sure that you eating enough protein. Eating enough protein really can help you feel more full and therefore, less open to temptation. Many of my clients and I eat protein-based food before going to an event where we are not sure that the food offered will support the healthy choices we want to make.

 

For healthy and quick recipes (so you can get in enough protein and other healthy foods), check out my healthy cookbooks using Trader Joe’s healthy shortcut products.

Quick and Healthy Meals from Trader Joe’s

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 Livin’ Lean with Trader Joe’s coverll40

 

and Simmering Solutions, Healthy Slow-Cooker Recipes e-book

Simmering Solutions cookbook

Weight Watcher Points are available on my Jamie Davidson Cooks! Web site.

Recipes for Gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan and vegetarian recipes are included in all my cookbooks.

Find more recipes and ideas on my Facebook page: Trader Joe’s Recipes

For a list of healthy products from Trader Joe’s and Costco (with nutritional analysis) sign up for my newsletter.

 

 

7. Watch your alcohol intake. Not only is alcohol full of calories, but by drinking too much, your resolve to eat more nutritiously can be lost. 4 ounces of red wine will cost you 100 calories. (8 ounces will cost you 200!) Again, choose and budget what you truly want to enjoy. Check out my blog on alcohol calories if you dare!

8. Preplan, preplan, preplan. How do you plan for any kind of successful endeavor in your life? You preplan.

  • Preplan what kind of snack or meal you will have when spending hours shopping. Take food with you or know where you can get something healthy.
  • If eating dinner out with family and friends, being specific about what you will eat is important. For example, will you have an appetizer? Have you checked out the menu ahead of time online so that you know what to order? Will you eat dessert? If so, how large a piece?
  • If there is something you MUST have that you can’t get any other time of the year, have a small bite, savor it and understand that it will be available next year and the year after that.
  • If you are asked to bring a dish to an event, make sure that it is a healthy choice so that you will have something to eat in case the rest of the dishes prove to be not so healthy.

9. Practice saying “no thank you” when you are offered goodies or other high-caloric foods or drinks that you don’t want to eat or drink. Think of something clever to say to those who insist you must eat what they spent days preparing or bought special for the occasion.

10. If you are planning an event, take that opportunity to serve lower-calorie, high-flavor foods to your guests. They do exist! Your guests will appreciate it. It is also a good idea to have a high-protein snack before you go to an event so that you do not arrive hungry and possibly sabotage your chances of making good food selections. A hard boiled egg, tuna mixed with a little Dijon mustard wrapped in lettuce, Greek yogurt with a little fruit, meat jerky, a handful of almonds or some vegetables and hummus are good higher-protein snack ideas.

Here is a recipe for Chili Glazed Shrimp .Check my website blog for lots more quick and healthy appetizer and meals ideas as well as my cookbooks, available on Amazon and my website page.

11. Keep food records. This would be a great time for you to begin to use an online tracking tool if you are not already using it. Or, keep them on paper. Food records help us to problem-solve and to preplan as well as to see what is working for us. (Just like a money budget.) They can also keep us honest and on track. Those of us who have been keeping food records consistently know how important they are to our success in losing weight and keeping it off. 

If you are having a hard time getting into the habit, or go into “Failure Syndrome” by the second day, begin to keep them for the parts of the day when you are successful.  When you have had some success, begin to record more of your day. Subtotal after each meal to see how many calories you have left for the day. “Bank” calories by under eating some days prior to an event where you plan to eat some higher-calorie foods.

12. Breathe! If you meditate, this would be a great time to continue. If you don’t, this could be a great time to begin. Or, take a few deep breaths several times a day. Give yourself a cue that you see often (a dot on your watch, a new bracelet, a reminder on your phone or computer background or the dashboard in your car) to help you remember to give your body and mind a mini-break by taking a few deep breaths several times a day. You will notice a difference.

13. Practice being grateful. There are so many awesome things that happen everyday. Oprah spread the word and benefits of keeping a daily gratitude journal several years ago. She recommended writing down at least 6 things that you are grateful for each evening. Those of us that keep one report a deepened awareness of and gratefulness for the things, situations and people in our lives that are sometimes easy to overlook otherwise.

14. Gifts: Instead of baking tempting goodies to give as gifts (and nibbling while making them), give plants, make mustard or chutney, soap, candles, etc. If you are the receiver of a high-caloric gift, give it to someone you know will enjoy it, and by all means, get it out of your environment. Give exercise wear or gadgets such as walking or hiking socks, a sun visor, a pedometer, a gym membership, walking tapes, exercise DVDs etc. as gifts. You could even put them on your Santa list. Here is a  Healthy Holiday Gift List I put together on my WhatWorksWeightLoss.com site if you need some ideas. It includes three of my healthy cookbooks, designed to help put healthy meals on the table quickly.


15. Remind yourself of your successes. Celebrate the progress you have made with becoming healthier. Have you begun to exercise regularly? Have you lost inches? Have you lost pounds? Have you begun to eat more healthfully? Are you keeping food records? Are you maintaining a weight loss? Are you taking more deep breaths? Whatever your successes, give yourself credit! Success builds success. The more successful behaviors in which we engage, the closer to our goals we will be.

16. Dress your best throughout the season. It will remind you of how well you have done so far and will help to keep you focused on your goals when tempted.

17. Weigh in daily or not? A study recently reported that people who weighed themselves daily lost more weight over a certain period of time than those who didn’t. Weighing daily can be a two-sided coin though: If you find that weighing daily motivates you to be more aware of what you are eating and how much you are exercising, it can be a good practice.  However, if you find that you become discouraged when the scale goes up due to excess salt, hormonal influences, muscles holding water due to a heavy workout, etc. etc., you might want to forego this practice and continue to weigh weekly.

18. Make sure that you are getting lots of liquids and fiber-filled veggies to keep yourself feeling full. Get in the habit of drinking decaf coffee, flavored tea, water, etc., when you have the urge for a snack or have them instead of dessert.  

19. Remember to reward yourself for doing well in particularly difficult situations. After you have followed through with your plans, reward yourself immediately after the event for a job well done (but not with food!)

20. Get support. Some employee wellness programs have contests or check-ins to encourage employees to maintain their weight during the holidays, along with prizes. Buddy up with a friend to support each others’ healthy habits throughout the holidays. Let family and friends know that you are making an effort to make healthy choices and that you would like their support. Be accountable to a weight management/wellness coach who would be happy to help you realize your commitment to welcome 2018 looking and feeling your best.

I know that the title is 20 Tips for a Healthy Holiday Season but I HAD to add two more!

21. Make a vision board of how healthy you want to look and feel and refer to it often. You might even want to take a picture of it and post it as the background on your phone and/or computer to remind you of your goals.

22. Do something nice for someone or something.Tis the season of giving. Numerous studies have consistently shown that giving makes people feel good. There are always opportunities to give but many of us become more aware of them during the holidays season. Whether it’s volunteering, donating money, or buying something special for someone, selfless action can help lessen the risk and symptoms of depression and day-to-day stress. A good way to ward off depression during the holidays, if that is something you experience, is to find a way to give of yourself that is enjoyable.

 

Do you have tips that work well for you? If so, please email them to me and I will share them.
 

“Like” my Trader Joe’s Recipes Facebook page for lots more healthy tips, recipes, new products and ideas to help you stay healthy.

20 Tips for a Healthy Vacation

by jamie on June 21, 2016

                                                                        beach

        20 Tips for a Healthy Vacation

 

Your vacation is here! You’ve been planning it for months and are ready to pack your bags. You’ve lost some weight and want to maintain that loss or, you typically gain weight on vacation and are determined not to do so this time. 20 Tips for a Healthy Vacation will help you come home just as healthy as you left- or maybe even healthier!

Are you one of those people who look forward to letting go of everything while you are on vacation, including your healthy habits? Are you typically surrounded by like-minded friends and family and find it difficult to consistently make healthy choices?

Here are some tips that can help you maintain your hard-earned loss or avoid gaining weight while on vacation                                       

  1. Avoid thinking of your vacation as full of tempting events. It may seem that way but it’s not true. If you think about it, there are realistically only a few special events scheduled during most vacations. Maybe you are traveling for a wedding, anniversary, special birthday, etc., and those occasions can certainly provide lots of choices to get off track but there will be many days during your vacation that will not involve special meals out or opportunities to overindulge. I often ask my clients to think of eating while on vacation as an opportunity to order healthy food and have someone prepare it for you and wash the dishes rather than the alternative, which is to think that you get to treat yourself now that you are on vacation, forgetting that most of us treat ourselves very often during the year.

     

    2. Think about what it is that you truly want from your vacation. What are your intentions for yourself during your vacation? What will help you truly relax, regenerate, connect with loved ones, have a good time, create wonderful memories, maybe have an adventure and/or learn something new, and come being home proud of your choices? Other than treat yourself to a big or fancy meal, how about treating yourself to a massage, a good book or an amazing hike? Think before you go of what you want and plan accordingly.

    3. Keep moving – whether that be continuing your regular exercise routine, dancing at an event, swimming in the pool, lake or ocean or trying a new activity. Does your accommodation have a gym, a wonderful beach, hiking trails, wonderful cities to explore? Could you just as easily (and safely) walk than take a bus or cab? Maybe one of the people you will be going with likes to exercise too. Make a plan to move together and support each other in your choices to keep moving. Maybe start with walking at the airport. Have to get there hours before your flight or have a long lay-over? Those are great opportunities to get in some exercise. You could check your bags and wear a backpack with everything you need on the plane. That way you don’t need to stay by your luggage or ask someone else to stay with it. Wear shoes you can walk in and get in a few miles (and maybe even some stairs) before sitting for hours on the plane. Take your exercise tracking devices on your phone or otherwise and put them to good use every day.

    4. Know which foods are packed with the most calories. Did you know that those fancy drinks can cost you plenty calorie-wise?  Or that a handful of mixed nuts (1/2 cup) you ate because you missed lunch can cost you over 400 calories? What about the special dessert you just had to have because they only make it at that restaurant? By knowing the caloric content of the different foods you encounter, you can spend your calories on foods that have the most value to you.

    5. Get enough sleep.  Many of us eat more when we are tired, especially in the evenings. We often try to pack in more during vacations and getting enough sleep can be difficult to do. Be reasonable in what you can realistically do and still come home from your vacation rested and refreshed. Make the word “ease” part of your vocabulary for your trip. Noisy hotel? Make sure you take your earplugs and maybe something to cover your eyes in case the blinds don’t block the light very well.

    6. Make sure that you eating enough protein. Protein can help you feel more full and therefore, less open to temptation. Have a higher-protein breakfast. You might want to take some protein powder with you or, if you have cooking facilities, boil some eggs or buy other good protein choices to take with you for snacks while exploring or to have between siestas or playing by the pool. If there is a grocery store nearby, stock up on good protein and vegetable choices.

    7. Watch your alcohol intake. Not only is alcohol full of calories, but by drinking too much, your resolve to eat more healthfully can be lost.  4 oz. of red wine will cost you 100 calories. (8 oz. will cost you 200!) Indulge instead by purchasing sparkling water or by adding a piece of fruit to your water.

    8. Preplan, preplan, preplan. How is it that you have achieved any successful endeavor in your life?  You preplanned. The same is true for eating healthy foods on a regular basis. Preplan what kind of snack or meal you will have when spending hours sight-seeing. If eating dinner out, being specific about what you will eat is important. For example, will you have an appetizer? Have you checked out the menu ahead of time so that you know how to plan? Will you eat dessert? If so, how large a piece? If there is something you MUST have that you can’t get any other place, have a small bite and understand that you will be able to enjoy it when you come back.

    9. Practice saying “no thank you” when you are offered goodies or other high-caloric foods or drinks, some that may be special to that destination. Think of something clever to say to those who insist you must try something and who remind you that you are on vacation, implying that you should be able to eat and drink whatever you please because that’s what they plan to do.

    10. If you are planning on going to an event, it might be a good idea to have a high protein snack before you go so that you do not arrive hungry and possibly lower your chances of making good food selections. A hardboiled egg, tuna mixed with a little Dijon mustard wrapped in lettuce, Greek yogurt with a little fruit, meat or fish jerky, a handful of almonds or some vegetables and hummus are good higher-protein snack ideas.

    11. Keep food records. If you have wifi, keeping electronic food records help us to problem-solve and to preplan as well as to see what is working for us. They can also keep us honest and on track. Those of us who have been keeping food records consistently know how important they are to our success in losing weight and keeping it off.  If you are having a hard time getting into the habit, or go into “Failure Syndrome” by the second day, begin to keep them for the parts of the day when you are successful.  When you have had some success, begin to record more of your day. Subtotal after each meal to see how many calories you have left for the day. “Bank” calories by under eating some days prior to an event that will most likely include higher-calorie foods.

    12. Breathe! If you meditate, this would be a great time to continue. If you don’t, this could be a great time to begin.

    13. Practice being grateful. Oprah spread the idea and benefits of keeping a daily gratitude journal several years ago. She recommended writing down at least 6 things that you are grateful for each evening. If you haven’t tried it, you might want to start. Those of us that do report being much more aware of and grateful for the even ordinary incredible things, situations and people in our lives. Celebrate why you are there (and even that you can be there) and make it a point to truly enjoy yourself!

    14. Gifts: If you are bringing gifts home for family and friends, think about bringing them home something besides something to eat or drink. Ideas? Tee-shirts, jewelry, music, a sun-visor, books, etc., that are special to the place where you are vacationing.

    15. Remind yourself of your successes. Celebrate your accomplishments with losing weight or whatever progress you have made toward becoming healthier. Have you begun exercising regularly? Have you limited the amount of alcohol calories you drink each week? Have you lost inches? Have you lost pounds? Have you begun to eat more healthfully? Are you keeping food records? Are you maintaining your weight loss? Whatever your successes, give yourself credit! Success builds success. The more successful behaviors in which we engage, the closer to our goals we will get.

    16. Dress your best and/or your most comfortable. Spending a few days at the beach? Wear the new bathing suit you bought for the occasion and compliment yourself on the hard work you did to look so good in it! Same thing for the clothes you might have purchased for your vacation. Bought a new outfit for a special occasion? Enjoy the way your body feels and looks in it. It will remind you of how well you have done so far and will help to keep you focused on your goals when tempted.

    17.  Weigh in daily or not? If you have access to a scale and you normally weigh yourself daily, remember that the scale at home may not be consistent with the one at your vacation spot. That noted, a study recently reported that people who weighed themselves daily lost more weight over a certain period of time than those who didn’t. Weighing daily can be a two-sided coin though: If you find that weighing daily motivates you to be more aware of what you are eating and how much you are exercising, it can be a good practice.  However, if you find that you become discouraged when the scale goes up due to excess salt, hormonal influences, muscles holding water due to a heavy workout, air travel, etc. etc., you might want to forego this practice and continue to weigh weekly. If you don’t have access to a scale, make sure that you promise to get on yours at home within a couple of days of returning so that if you did gain, you can begin to make plans to lose it and avoid possibly continuing to gain.

    18. Make sure that you are getting lots of liquids
    to keep yourself feeling full and hydrated. Get in the habit of drinking water, decaf coffee or flavored tea when you need a snack or, drink them instead of having dessert.  

    19. Eat lots of veggies and lots of fiber-both will keep you full and less vulnerable to temptation. Take along a collapsible cooler so you can take lunch with you on your excursions.

    20. Avoid gas station “stores”. If you are traveling by car, try to use the restroom at one of the many rest stops to avoid being triggered to want something unhealthy by the thousands of junk foods that await each person who walks into a service station mini market when getting gas. Overwhelming. Instead, bring a cooler of healthy snacks for yourself and your family to snack on between meals. Bring along some audio books. If you are traveling by car, bring along some audio books from the library to keep yourself amused or listen to saved pod casts. They will help you to avoid thinking about what you might eat as you are in the car between meals.

    ©Jamie Davidson. M.S., 2016

     

Would you like to feel better and look trimmer? Check out my What Works Weight Loss program and join others who have lost weight and have kept it off!

Do you shop at Trader Joe’s and would like some healthy recipes using their convenient foods? Check out my healthy Trader Joe’s cookbooks on my other web site: Jamie Davidson Cooks!

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